Chances are, you’re currently stuck at home and forced to do the one thing that many of us dread doing: cooking.
During this time of shortages, it can be especially hard to find fresh ingredients with which to cook healthy meals.
But with these 15 pantry staples on hand, you can come up with dozens of easy, plant-based meals to keep you nourished with minimal cooking skills required.
Crushed tomatoes are the base for any good, hearty meal. Combine them with beans and quinoa for an easy and protein-packed chili, or make some pasta sauce from scratch.
With pasta, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy cold in a salad for lunch, or stick to classics like spaghetti. Penne, Rigatoni, and Spaghetti noodles are the most versatile—but work with what you can find.
Quinoa, brown rice, jasmine rice
Dried lentils are a cheap source of protein that can be tossed into soups and chili, used on top of rice or quinoa for a grain bowl, or even thrown in with crushed tomatoes for a protein-packed bolognese sauce.
Red kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, and white Northern beans are the most practical beans. Use them in chilis, burrito bowls, and on top of salads or grain bowls for extra protein.
Oats are another good source of protein that make for a filling breakfast.
While nut butters can be expensive, they are a good source of healthy fats and protein and have a very long shelf life. Blend a scoop in a smoothie, put some on top of your oatmeal, or eat as a snack with some pretzels or rice cakes.
Shelf-Stable Plant-Based Milk
While normal milk does not have a long shelf-life, plant-milk sold in cartons in the beverage aisle of your local store hold up for a long time and taste the same as the refrigerated counterparts. Use in a smoothie, in soups for creaminess, in your oatmeal or cereal, etc.
Vegetable, Chicken, or Beef Broth
Broth makes the perfect base for soups, curry, and adds a great flavor if used to make rice and quinoa.
Potatoes last a long time and are a healthy, versatile carb. Sweet potatoes are great additions to grain bowls or chili, and russet potatoes are great baked with your favorite toppings or thrown into soups.
Oils and Vinegar
Oil and vinegars are the base for many salad dressings. Choose healthier oils like avocado or olive oil if you can afford it. Coconut oil is another good option to cook with that is much healthier than butter or other lower-grade oils.
Red wine vinegar is delicious in a salad dressing or tossed with some cold pasta. White vinegar is a great cleaning tool, but also adds acidity to dishes that need it in a pinch.
Rice cakes, pretzels, baked chips, and other cracker-like snacks last for a while if properly stored.
Frozen fruit and veggies
Frozen vegetables can be used in practically any recipe, are very affordable, and last for months. Frozen fruit is a good snack on its own, tossed into smoothies, or topped on oatmeal.
Meals to consider making from these pantry ingredients:
Oats, shelf-stable milk, frozen fruit.
Combine ingredients and microwave for 2-3 minutes.
Nut butter, frozen fruit, shelf-stable milk.
Throw these ingredients in a blender and enjoy!
Pasta of choice (penne, macaroni, orzo, etc), olive oil, vinegar, frozen mixed veggies.
Combine cold pasta with some defrosted mixed veggies, red wine vinegar, and olive oil for a hearty and delicious meal.
Diced tomatoes, canned beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic.
Add any additional ingredients you wish. Cook on the stovetop or throw it in a crockpot for an easy dinner. Leftovers are even better!
Diced tomatoes, canned beans, canned tomatoes, quinoa/rice, onions, garlic
Cook the grains of your choice, heat up canned beans, and add any fresh or frozen vegetables as toppings. Also top with canned tomatoes.
Nut butter, spaghetti noodles, frozen mixed veggies, garlic, onions.
Combine cooked spaghetti noodles with nut butter, cooked mixed veggies, garlic, and onions for a quick Asian-Inspired noodle.
Brown or Jasmine rice, frozen mixed veggies.
Cook grain of choice and top with frozen mixed veggies and any protein you may have on hand.
Spaghetti and Bolognese:
Spaghetti noodles, frozen mixed veggies, lentils,
broth, onions, garlic.
Cook frozen mixed veggies and lentils in broth with sautéed onions and garlic. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.